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We will look at all segments, says Ford chief

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Michael Boneham
Michael Boneham

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Ford India will look at opportunities in every segment available in the Indian market.

Stating this in an interaction with this correspondent, Michael Boneham, Managing Director and President of Ford India, pointed to the foresight of Henry Ford, the founder of the company, in focussing on providing mass transportation to the common man.

“We will look at all segments in India and those that made business sense for us,” he reiterated. Though he did not directly field a question on whether the company would look at ‘Nano' price segment, Mr. Boneham made it clear that it was keen to carry forward the message of its founder in the Indian context. He reaffirmed Ford India's commitment to come out with a new product every 12 to 18 months.

Mr. Boneham was pleased with the business environment in the country, which had become stronger since Ford set up shop in India in 1995. He felt that the industrial relations climate too was positive in India at the moment.

Incidentally, the Ford India facility had just rolled out 100,000 {+t} {+h} Fiesta. Launched in 2006, Ford Fiesta “continues to make us feel proud,” said Mr. Boneham. Coming as it did on top of the launch of its small car Figo and on the back of a strong sales number in the past couple of months, the Fiesta landmark had indeed brought cheers to him. Mr. Boneham said since Figo was based on the Fiesta platform, the company was able to “maximise benefits in terms of driving economies of scale using many commonalities between them.” This had helped the company keep the Figo cost-competitive. “When Fiesta was launched, it took the segment by storm. It is holding itself well now,” he said.

Mr. Boneham said he would like the company to emerge “as an interesting niche player” and be counted among the leaders in the chosen segments. Post-Figo launch, the sales number for the company had trebled in April this year as compared to the year-ago period. There was huge growth in demand across the industry, he said pointing to the 40 per cent growth in sales numbers in April. This demand-push had already caused supply constraints, pushing the company to go in for a second shift from June.

He expected the company to add another 700-800 people to its workforce to facilitate the second shift operation.

With competition turning intense, Mr. Boneham felt that “each producer has to demonstrate its USP (unique selling proposition).” Though price was a crucial component in this exercise, he felt that the cost of ownership of a vehicle could be key distinguishing factor. He asserted that the company was advantageously positioned in this regard.

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